Photo by twitter.com/mattwi1s0n (Flickr)
By Nathan Strum
The moment after hitting the send button on a work email is not the time to realize that mistakes have been made. Email is a very powerful and prevalent tool in the business world because it is cheap, easy, and fairly reliable. In my experience in working with entrepreneurs, I find that many business professionals lack the proper etiquette necessary to send an effective email.
Proper email etiquette helps your message to look more professional and will get you a better response. When you use good business email habits, then you are maximizing this powerful communication tool.
Avoid Using “Reply All”
I have firsthand experience of someone using a “reply all” button on an email and getting fired for the content of that email. You never know what kind of results you will get when you click on “reply all.” You may think that your email is just going to one recipient, but it could wind being delivered to the email inbox of everyone in the company.
Avoid Using Nicknames and Informal Speech
You may play golf with the recipient of your business email every weekend, but your email still needs to look professional. A business email could wind up being forwarded to a client or being printed out for a case file. Never use nicknames, profanity, or slang in business emails.
Create a Comprehensive Subject
It is bad business etiquette to send an email to a colleague or customer and not include a relevant subject line. Your subject line can be a quick summary of the email, and then it should also include your name. A good example of a complete subject would be “2014 Revenue Figures – from Bob Smith.”
Be Careful When Using BCC
The BCC button on an email template means “blind carbon copy.” The recipients in the BCC field will get the email, but no one else in the recipient list will see those BCC names. Sometimes using the BCC field is necessary, but it can also be seen as a sort of invasion of privacy if people find out that you sent their email as a BCC to someone else as well.
Don’t Use Emotions
Even that colleague you have been working with for 20 years can find it easy to misinterpret an email because emails do not allow the expression of emotions. Keep all business emails short and to the point. If you have an emotional issue to cover, then use the phone or set up a face-to-face meeting.
Refrain From Using Images
It is fun to send cat pictures or cartoons to your friends over email, but you should avoid doing that with business emails unless it is absolutely necessary. Some company email filters will delete your email if it has images in it, which would defeat the purpose of using email. Avoid putting images in your business emails unless it is absolutely necessary. If you do use images, then include a short note in the subject line.
Proofread Before Sending
Few things are more frustrating to your colleague or customer than a business email filled with misspellings and grammar errors. Your meaning can be lost and your credibility can be questioned when you allow business emails to go out that have errors in them. Take a few moments to proofread all business emails before you press that send button.